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Supporting Each Other

Casting for a Cause is sometimes fortunate enough to find a sponsor that is like-minded in their efforts to support our veterans. Tel-Conn Manufacturing is one of those sponsors. This past weekend, Jay Yancey and I had the opportunity to take Pete Bateman and Ilya Unzhakov for some inshore fishing that provided waters smooth enough for us to even venture out to the SAV nearshore reef. Pete is the President of Tel-Conn while Ilya works in sales, and it is quite evident these guys trust each other and work well together.

Ilya had informed me that Pete would have some difficulty seeing due to being visually impaired from birth. While he retains some vision, the fact he walks without assistance was a little misleading as to just how much he could see. I would not find out until later that he kept thinking he was pitching into the grass. I've since realized I need to ask more questions and be more focused to ensure every disability gets my fullest attention.

As we worked our way out of Turner's Creek and along the Wilmington River, I was intent on pushing the throttles full speed because we were running a bit behind. I knew the area we were planning to fish would already be occupied if we didn't get there quick, so I buried the throttles and watched their response as we approached 50 mph. They both appeared to be enjoying the ride, even as we wound our way through Tybee Cut and headed for toward Wassaw sound. Soon we ended up at the mouth of the creek we were intending to fish and as I expected, a local charter captain was already fishing the bank with a client. I've discovered respect goes a long way in this business as he sent me a text message politely informing me of standard etiquette simply because he knew I probably did not know it already.

As we adjusted our course and worked our way to another location, our clients began to get a few bites as Jay and I worked to ensure they always had bait and the necessary support for netting any fish they may pull in. However, the bite simply was not what I had expected that morning and we soon decided to head offshore to the SAV reef. We worked our way out along the opposite side from which we came in as I began pitching an artificial lure to see if the bite would improve. I was surprised when an upper slot red decided to show his strength, but efforts to catch more of them ended in disappointment.

Heading out of the sound, we found the weatherman had not been exactly accurate regarding how rough the waters would be, but we continued on our way as our clients smartly moved to the back of the boat. I would be remiss if I did not say that I was expecting one of them to get seasick. I even checked on them often to make sure I didn't put them in an uncomfortable position. Little did I know that I would eventually be the one holding my head over the side while watching orange Gatorade and donuts dissipate through the water. Turning the duties of Captain over to Jay, I crawled in the back corner of the boat as I tried to stay out of the way of their efforts to catch black sea bass. Each one would check on me on occasion to make sure I was doing ok and asking if we needed to turn back. However, these trips are about our clients and I was not about to ruin their day just because of a little sea sickness. With Jay's guidance Pete and Ilya were pulling in one sea bass after another, while often having two on the same line. Unfortunately, none of them would be sizeable enough to keep. After a couple of hours chasing sea bass and Spanish Mackerel, I suggested we head in to try and catch some trout at a spot that I knew would usually provide results.

Since the ocean had calmed a bit while we were at the artificial reef, we were able to double our speed and return to inshore waters relatively quickly. Making my way into a small creek, I set the spot lock on the Minn Kota and made suggestions on where these two fishermen should cast. While each of them managed to catch a few small trout and reds, Jay was the only one that would catch a keeper for the dinner table. With time getting short before we had to be back, we headed back in so we could meet up at The Local on 17 in Richmond Hill for dinner. The fish we had caught would not become the meal that Jay would prepare for us at his restaurant.

This was my first time having an opportunity to eat at The Local and I must say that I was not disappointed. Fried Deviled Eggs captured the attention of our guests as an appetizer, followed by a meal of fish we had caught earlier. A musician sat at an old baby grand piano playing songs that I grew up on as a child while often sounding much like the original artists who sang them. While the dinner was excellent, the atmosphere matched it as we discussed the days events and future initiatives. Each of us ordered a desert to close out the night with and then said our goodbye's as we new that somewhere along the way, we would soon meet again.

Casting for a Cause is thankful for each of our sponsors and we feel they deserve an opportunity to experience the services we provide. Being the son of a Pearl Harbor survivor, Pete knows the value that our veterans bring to the table and recognizes the discipline and dedication that each have provided during service to their country. Ilya, was born in the Soviet Union and raised no knowing his grandfather who was lost at see while performing his duties in the soviet submariner fleet. Ilya later moved to the United States with his mother just a few days after the twin towers fell on September 11. He has grown to love America and is now preparing for marriage.

I always feel a sense of pride in putting people on fish, but that's nothing compared to the pride I feel for our great nation. You cannot find a better country in which to live, even with all of the chaos that is going on around the nation today. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to serve our nation and I'm also thankful for the way our supporters often reach out to serve us. After all, we are supposed to be here for each other. Brother supporting brother and encouraging each other even when we are at our lowest. I look forward to working with these guys more in the future and trust that you will also consider how you can be a part of, or support our efforts.

If you are ever out on the water and you see our boat passing by, give us a wave. We enjoy meeting new people and making friends. Keep your rod tip down and your line tight and remember in God we trust.

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